What Do I Wear There? Study Abroad: Australia

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Woman with suitcase

This week, I’m returning to the Study Abroad series by popular demand to focus on an amazingly beautiful place many of you are lucky enough to study in–Australia! Super helpful CF reader Anika was kind enough to advise on us style there from her own experience, so be sure to thank her in the comments below.

As always, the same guidelines apply:

  • All of the information here is taken from advice I have received–it is not a binding set of rules for how to dress in these locations! These are simply some helpful suggestions on what articles of clothing have proved most functional and worthwhile for those who have traveled abroad. However, for this article, it is important to note what is and is not appropriate to wear in these areas, as they tend to be more conservative than what most readers may be used to.
  • Because of the nature of these posts–which are trying to cater to such a large crowd of people going to all different places within each of these areas–I am forced to generalize. However, I do understand that fashion is different not just in the different countries but also in the different regions of each country. Therefore, please feel free to correct me or add more detail in the comments if you think your specific location within these countries follows different fashion “rules” or subscribes to a different way of dressing!

(In case you missed my previous posts, see What Do I Wear There? Study AbroadStudy Abroad Fashion FAQWhat Do I Wear There? Study Abroad in the UK and Ireland,  Study Abroad Fashion in France, Germany, Italy, and SpainStudy Abroad Fashion in China, Israel, and JapanStudy Abroad Fashion in Scandinavia and Study Abroad Fashion in India and South America.)

General Tips

Australia is generally a warmer climate, so do not pack your heavy winter gear! The best way to get through the winter is with layers, so be sure to pack pieces that you can pile on for a chilly day.

For warmer weather, stick with the same basics you love from here–you can’t go wrong with jeans, shorts, tee shirts, and tank tops. And since it does tend to be sunnier in Australia, do not forget to bring or buy some strong SPF! As Anika told me, “The sun burns really quickly and is much hotter than sun I’ve experienced anywhere else. Sunscreen is my best friend.”

Daily Look for Australia

First and foremost, Anika noted that, “On campus in Australia, I’d have to say it’s a LOT more relaxed than most would be used to.” Below is a sample outfit I created based on her suggestions for a cute, casual daytime look.

Australian fashion

Product Information: Tank: Net-a-porter.com, Vest: Allsaints.com, Sunglasses: Girlprops.com, Shorts: TopShop.com, Bracelet: ASOS.com, Sandals: Cottonon.com

Anika told me that she often wears shorts, a tank top, a vest, and some cute accessories for a regular day going to class. I picked out this outfit because the base of it is extremely flexible and can be worn for a variety of activities. The sunglasses will protect you from the strong sun there, while the bracelet and shoes add a great pop of color to your look.

Dressing up should be reserved for “off campus” outings, such as fun nights out with friends. For these, you can pretty much wear what you typically would back in the US. However, you can stay pretty casual–jeans are appropriate for most daily looks in Australia, including going out.

Anika also suggests that, “A person should definitely bring every bikini they own” if you want to be able to truly take advantage of all the beautiful weather and outdoor fun Australia has to offer. She also stresses how easy it is to burn and how vital sunscreen is. Hats are also a great way to ensure your head stays out in the sun and doesn’t roast!

Finally, just because the look in Australia is slightly more relaxed does not mean sweatpants are okay there either! Anika pointed out that “most [Australians] have no idea what ‘sweat pants’ are, so you’re unlikely to buy them or see them.” So keep your sweats to yourself in your dorm or at the gym!

Shopping in Australia

According to Anika, “The best places to shop would have to be Valley Girl, Ally and Temt, totally cheap but great clothes (you can check them out online).” For more high-end products, she suggests David Jones, which is one of Australia’s major department stores. If you’re looking for some accessories, try Sportsgirl, which is also slightly more expensive, but has great outfit additions like headbands. Cosmetic purchases are best at Priceline, which Anika claims is both “cheap and amazing.”

If you’re interested in traveling, Anika suggests going to Burleigh Heads rather than the popular tourist spot Surfer’s Paradise. Burleigh Heads not only has a “better beach” but also “great shopping,” so go prepared to spend some money, as “a walk down the main street will leave a girl with an empty purse.”

What do you think?

Do you have any other tips on nailing Australian style? Are there any other tips you’d like to see? What essentials would you want to bring to Australia? Let us know in the comments!

And if you have any “What Do I Wear There” questions, let me know in the comments! Yours may be featured in next week’s article.

27 thoughts on “What Do I Wear There? Study Abroad: Australia”

  1. Hi, my daughter is 15. We are traveling to NZ (her birthplace), and Australia this April from the US. She may be attending a day of school with our friends daughter, where they probably wear uniforms, but I thought I might get some ideas about
    how teens are dressing. She wears skinny jeans or leggings, and uggs or Spearys here, most everyday here. Any comments?

  2. Hi everyone, thanks for all the wonderful insight…this post is very helpful!

    I will be interning is Sydney, Australia from mid May to early August. Do I bother packing my pleathera of bikini’s? Will I be able to enjoy the beach or layout at all? Any room I can save in my luggage by knowing ahead of time the better!

    Should I pack more layering stuff (blazers, sweaters, jackets, scarves) than say warm weather stuff? (tanks, shorts, sandals). I see someone mentioned you may need to wear gloves and hats. Does Sydney really get that cold? (Im from Michigan so needless to say anything above 50 is warm to me)

    Lastly, I will be spending most of my days downtown working for a fashion company. I would love some insight into the work clothing of the city in the winter.

  3. That pretty much sums it up for Australia. I live in Sydney and I also study at UNSW.
    Ashley, I don’t think Northface is big in Australia… at least in Sydney. During July-November, it’ll be the end of winter and most people would start dressing up for spring in August because it warms up then. By November, it gets pretty hot like it would in the summer. Then again, the weather is pretty unpredictable because the summer that just passed wasn’t as hot as it normally would be. As for shoes, you don’t need any winter boots or anything like that. When it’s raining, people just wear closed in shoes like sneakers or boots. As for leather jackets, you wouldn’t need it during July-November. We tend to follow the trends in the US so because there’s the choice of brights and pastels for your spring, we’d have the same. I’ve already seen lots of pastels in stores at the moment, and bright colours.

    As for the American “lingo”, I’m not sure about that. I don’t think there is anything that we (in general) can’t stand because most of our television shows are American and we’re exposed to some of your “lingo”. It’s not weird to just go up to someone and say “hey”. We’re pretty friendly but you still have to keep your eye on body language too. If the person sitting next to you looks like they’ll bite someone’s head off, you wouldn’t talk to her/him. As for cellphone usage… let’s say we use them a lot. Some more than others. I’ve always seen people their eyes glued onto their phone and twittering during lectures (some lecturers use it as an educational tool so it’s not all bad).

    In the end, most people won’t care about what you’re wearing. I see lots of people in jeans, T-shirts and thongs (flip-flops) but then there’s the occasional person who is a little more dressy with her Tory Burch flats or YSL ring (yes, I’ve seen people wearing them…) I’m sure you’ll fit right into UNSW. People are very friendly once you strike up a conversation and get to know them.

  4. poonam: Your simple clothing will be fine here in Melbourne. At uni you always find different fashions, mainly neat-casual for example, jeans, boots a casual tee and blazer are usually found in winter, but it is very easy going. Jeans and a sweater, a dress, tights, boots and cardie. Combat boots are still big here, mainly with dresses, tights and leather jackets. Chunky knit wear is also a main feature in most uni-students wardrobes, usually paired with jeans. Heels not so big (usually only the asian girls where them, small heeled boots are usually the only heels worn or slightly heeled wedges) Sorry this is so late for your arrival. Hope you have fun here in Melbourne! Prepare for all the four seasons in one day!

  5. @Courtney I go to USyd and not that many people wear UGGS. The college students (i.e. the ones who live on campus) wear trackies and uggs more than everyone else. I wear a lot of dresses – the weather can be warm up until about April sometimes. I also wear dresses in winter (teamed with tights and boots) and a lot of jeans/cardi combos. I’m a fairly girly girl though so some people don’t wear dresses as much as me.

    I’m assuming you’ll be here for at least a semester, and once Autumn hits (or fall for you I guess) the weather can be a bit unpredictable. We can get the 4 seasons in one day type thing happening. It is super humid at the moment and I’m hoping it dissipates by the end of Feb. It’s a bit hot for jeans atm but by the time uni starts, you’ll definitely want them. A light jacket or cardi is perfect for going out til about April when it may get a bit cooler at night. You won’t need a trench or anything heavy duty til about June.

    Hope that helps! Sorry for the epic long comment.

  6. The Gold Coast probably, it’s very touristy though. Study abroad in Queensland or Sydney and then make a road-trip along the coast to visit all the little incidental beaches that are just as beautiful and very untouched by man. Also go for a run very early in the morning and hopefully you’ll will find a time where there is no one else on the beach but you…and maybe a fisherman or two.

  7. Hey Ana,

    Here is an article I wrote a little while back about dressing for a wedding. I hope this helps! Of course, if it’s lots of grass, I would definitely think you’d want to stick with heels, so mentally substitute those in for the looks I put with heels.


    Good luck with your outfit (I’m sure it’ll be great!) and have an amazing time at your wedding. I’m jealous of your warm weather–it’s pretty cold where I am!

  8. HELP ME…Im going to a wedding next weekend and I live in a warm place,really warm..Imin Brazil,lol! The wedding is going to be at a country club and that means GRASS,lots of it. Its going to start at 6:30 pm which will be around the time sun is setting.Can you please,please,please help me.Im totally clueless about what to wear.

  9. It’s really quite cold at the moment and will stay cold till the end of the week, but this is freak weather, February is normally the hottest time of the year and this time last year we were all sweltering with scorching weather, thus causing the devastating bushfires. Also last week it got to 45 here (which is 114 F). Melbourne weather can be random but Feb will be HOT. I Promise.

  10. hey i heard melbourne is kind of chilly right now and will go on till june
    is that right?
    im going to rmit this feb…..dunno wat to take

  11. Catie Cap- I too am from Wollongong -and whilst denim shorts are worn mostly, leggings and dressess are very popular starting around April. Some fo the lecture thetres can be very cold/hot so make sure you have a cardigan or something especially if going to the mckinnon building!!

  12. oh and we have target here as well (i shop there mostly for my basics), and supre is good for basics (just stay away from the mainstream trendy stuff). Cotton on is good as well and SES


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